Microdontia is one of those conditions that sound vaguely terrifying. But it’s not as bad as you think it is. Essentially, when we say “microdontia,” we mean your teeth are smaller than they’re supposed to be. And we don’t mean over-retained teeth, either—microdontia can happen to adults and children alike. But what causes microdontia? And what is it, exactly?
Unlike tooth decay and gum disease, microdontia is one of those rare types of diseases that only happen to a small percentage. Those who have microdontia often have another pre-existing condition, like Down syndrome and cleft lip and palate. Other times, what causes microdontia is a result of developmental disruptions. If a child, for instance, undergoes chemotherapy or ionizing radiation while their teeth are still developing, their teeth may grow smaller than usual.
But are there other things that can cause microdontia? Let’s find out.
What causes microdontia?
As we mentioned earlier, microdontia is the condition where your teeth are smaller than average. And, for the most part, they happen while you’re still being conceived. If you skim a little through your old biology books, you might recall that genes are what make you the way you are. They guide your body to develop a certain way and your cells to do the functions they do. If anything, then, happens to these genes, part of your body’s normal functioning then falls apart.
What does this have to do with microdontia? Most scientists agree that a good portion of microdontia cases have a genetic factor. In this case, the genes that help in the development of your oral and facial structures undergo a change that affects the way they develop.
An article by Carlson pinpoints a particular gene—called the PCNT—which encodes an essential protein in cell division. This gene is mostly active during the early stages of tooth development. When this gene changes or undergoes a mutation, this affects the way your teeth form in that stage. Microdontia, in particular, is usually the result of this gene mutation.
Genetic factors, then, play a huge role in what causes microdontia. But they’re far from the only way you can get tiny teeth. Retrouvey et al. note that environmental conditions can change how your teeth develop as well. Your genes might be normal while you were conceived. Still, if your mother had either a bout of hypothyroidism, hypertension or diabetes, there’s a chance that could affect the way your teeth develop.
Can you treat your microdontia?
Now that we know how microdontia happens, what can you do to fix it? Unfortunately, since microdontia affects you at a genetic level, there’s not much you can really do to treat it. But all hope isn’t lost—there are a good number of dental restorations that can do the job just fine.
Dental bonding, in particular, can go a long way when it comes to treating those microdontia baby teeth. Your dentist can apply cosmetic resin onto the teeth and shape it accordingly so they appear normal. You can also invest in some veneers and crowns. Crowns, in particular, don’t just make your teeth look great—they can also strengthen your small teeth as well.